The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington officially opens with a ceremony attended by 1,200 supporters, including Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine, Regent Ann Bookout, Governor Bob McDonnell, Mr. David McCullough, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, and the Library’s Founding Director Dr. Doug Bradburn.
Fellowships begin for academic research and the creation of teacher resources, fostering new scholarship about Washington and the founding era.
Since the Library’s founding, it has hosted 171 research fellows, 38 Life Guard teacher fellows, and 77 leadership fellows, resulting in 57 new books on the founding era. Of these books, three have won the Washington Book Prize and eight have been finalists.
The acquisition of the Fairfax Account Book informs curatorial and restoration efforts to authentically interpret the Mansion.
The Library launches Ford Evening Book Talk, a free, monthly public program that spotlights authors and their new books. Since then, Mount Vernon has hosted 123 free Ford Evening Book Talks with more than 15,000 in-person attendees and over 545,000 virtual views.
Mount Vernon hires the first Mount Vernon-based editor of The Papers of George Washington.
The Washington Library welcomes a host of experts to the Sulgrave Symposium, a special program commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The event was co-hosted by the Friends of Sulgrave Manor and the George Washington University.
The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Archive is centralized at the Library.
The Library officially launches its Digital Collections.
Mount Vernon acquires the Potomac Navigation Company Archive. The Potomac Navigation Company was a cooperative project between Maryland and Virginia to expand the Potomac River and establish navigable waterways that would further develop commercial trade. Established in 1785, the company’s first major investor was George Washington, who also served as its first president.
After partnering with the University of Virginia Press, Mount Vernon releases a new publication, The General in the Garden—the first publication released under the Library’s imprimatur.
Mount Vernon formally launches the George Washington Leadership Institute to examine and teach the leadership qualities of America’s first president. Since its establishment, the Institute has emerged as a premier platform for cultivating the necessary skills of future leaders.
Mount Vernon partners with King’s College in London in support of the Georgian Papers Programme. This represents the Library’s first international partnership.
Recognizing the important contributions of the generations of exceptional women and professional staff who have safeguarded Mount Vernon across the centuries, the Library hires a certified archivist, and an archival management system is implemented to make finding aids available online.
The first class of Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows arrives at Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program is a highly selective six-week summer institute for rising college juniors, offering unparalleled learning and networking opportunities at the home of America’s first president.
The Library’s finding aids are made available online, greatly expanding public access to its collections.
The Conversations at the Washington Library podcast launches. Since then, the Center for Digital History has released 229 episodes of Conversations at the Washington Library, resulting in 250,000 episode plays.
The George Washington Teacher Institute (GWTI), founded in 1999, becomes more accessible, serving teachers and students throughout the nation. Overall, the Library has welcomed 1,135 teachers in residence and engaged 2,791 educators through various programs.
Mount Vernon opens the exhibition Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, exploring the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery. The Library publishes a companion book and partners with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture for a roundtable discussion of race and slavery in history and popular culture.
Mount Vernon acquires letters between Washington and François-Jean de Beauvoir, chevalier de Chastellux, third in command of French general Rochambeau’s army and a critical liaison between the allies. The correspondence was part of a vast trove of papers, including letters to Thomas Jefferson, Baron Von Steuben, and Voltaire, much of which the Chastellux family is allowing the Library to digitize for the collection.
The Library acquires the George and Martha Ephemera Collection, items related to the memory and popular image of George Washington.
The Library digitizes Mount Vernon’s archival film collection—audio and video resources related to Mount Vernon, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and George Washington.
International academic conferences begin, convening experts from around the world to discuss the founding era. Such conferences have included:
The Library acquires a remarkable collection of 16 printings of Washington’s letters to religious congregations dating from 1789-1790—including his historic address to the Hebrew Congregation at Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island—plus four additional documents relating to religious freedom.
The George Washington Digital Encyclopedia—launched in October 2012 by the Library’s Center for Digital History (CDH)—hits 10 million users. Since its creation, the CDH has served as a valuable resource for 15.5 million virtual visitors. It has created 587 entries in the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, allowing anyone to explore primary sources from the Mount Vernon collection.
Noted historian Dr. Kevin Butterfield begins serving as the Library’s executive director.
The effort to re-create Washington’s original library continues with the acquisition of Washington’s copy of The Compleat Surveyor by William Leybourn (1679).
The online educational film for classroom use, Washington’s War: George Washington and the Revolutionary War, earns three Telly Awards, joining previous Telly Award-winning films Now or Never: Yorktown Campaign of 1781 and A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Creation of the U.S. Constitution.
Highlighting research and scholarship across the estate, the Library facilitates the publication of the book Stewards of Memory: The Past, Present, and Future of Historic Preservation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The interactive experience Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead (released 2018) earns a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement. In its first year, 130,000 people accessed the Be Washington platform in-person or online.
The live-action, role-playing Situation Room Experience: Washington’s Cabinet launches, placing students in Washington’s presidential cabinet, the Senate, the press, or as a diplomatic representative in order to resolve the foreign and domestic crises that plagued Washington’s second term.
The Richard Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection of more than 300 loose-leaf and 1,200 bound historic maps is donated, joining the Paul Stevens Map Collection of 27 historic maps.
Popular educational programs go digital so that teachers, students, and the public can access history on demand. More than 100 distance learning programs bring Mount Vernon into the homes and classrooms of more than 2,700 students around the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits. He joins many illustrious visitors, including former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, governors, and more.
The podcast Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington’s Mount Vernon launches. The podcast has since garnered more than 47,000 plays.
The American Revolutionary Geographies Online (ARGO) launches in partnership with the Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library, combining founding era maps from many repositories into a single portal for broader public access, learning, and interpretation.
To enhance accessibility and ease of use, the Library updates its online catalog, simplifying the process of finding relevant resources and elements within its vast collection.
The podcast Secrets of Washington’s Archives launches, breaking the Apple Top 100 History Charts just three days after release.
Dr. Spero, an award-winning historian of the U.S. founding and the former director of the Library & Museum of the American Philosophical Society, takes the helm of the Washington Library as it enters its second decade.
A 10th-anniversary Library celebration will be held at Mount Vernon, celebrating a decade of scholarship.
In the last decade, the Library has added more than 500 items of Washington-related printed memorabilia, spanning the years 1793 to 2009. The eclectic collection of ephemera includes invitations, children’s books, advertisements—even a garter belt—offering glimpses into how Washington’s legacy has shaped popular culture and society.
The Library’s collection has over 32,200 bibliographic records.
Library staff responded to 16,300 research inquiries.
- David McCullough at the opening of the Library, September 27, 2013 Learn More
What a truly great day for our country and what a lesson to be reminded of—one of the most obvious lessons of the innumerable lessons of history: that very little accomplishment is ever accomplished alone. It’s a joint effort, and here we see it, with all the people who made this major accomplishment happen. America is a joint effort.”
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